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Tips for becoming an admin

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about a few things that can help you be a great administrator. That’s helpful advice if you’re already an admin, but those who aren’t admins may be asking themselves an important question: how do I become one?

First, let’s briefly recap some of those tips for being a great admin.

Tips for being a great admin

Admins are no different than non-admins, they only have a few extra editing buttons that the community entrusts them with to carry out certain maintenance tasks (deletion, protection, blocking, etc). Admins should exist to serve the community and act as guides within a community, not rulers. After all, it’s the community that should be making most of the decisions. All admins are equal to non-admins, but they still play an important role in making sure the wiki and its community runs smoothly.

All of this is important to remember if you want to become an admin, because it will help determine how successful you are if you get that job.

So how do I become an admin?

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The admin selection process is traditionally a community vote.

The process for becoming an admin isn’t something I can really speak to in this blog with any specificity. The traditional way of becoming an admin is that a wiki’s community would vote your candidacy on, but the traditional way of doing things isn’t the only way of doing things. We have thousands of wikis here on Wikia, and each one has the right to decide their own decision-making processes. That includes how it chooses its administrators.

Before you consider approaching the community or its admins about how to become an admin yourself, be sure to look into what their process is—and if they even need more admins. Not every wiki needs more admins, so you don’t want to risk looking like someone who just wants power that the community doesn’t need you to have. Admins are, after all, there to serve the community. If the community is already being well served, you should respect that. The day may come when the community needs a new admin, even if it’s not today.

If I want to be an admin, what should I do?

In addition to what I just mentioned, there are certain behavioral traits you want to remember that are keys to being seen as an ideal admin candidate.

  • Be active. Admins should always be active, so someone who wants to be an admin should also be very active. You want to be someone who is seen throughout the community. If the community is electing you, then you will want to know as many people as possible. If they know you and respect you, as well as the things you do on the wiki, the more likely it is that they will vote for you. Remember, though, not to make edits simply for the sake of your edit count. Your contributions should be helping the wiki to grow, not just a way to get noticed.
  • Be of service. No one wants to vote for someone if they think that that person is only interested in power or having a fancy title. People want to vote for someone who wants to help them and help the community grow and thrive. An ideal admin candidate is someone who strives to provide whatever service they can to the community. Remember, while admins aren’t rulers, they are leaders—and the best kind of leader is one who sees themselves as a servant, not a king. Be there for the community and its needs, and people will undoubtedly respect you and want you to be an administrator.
  • Be a helpful and friendly voice. This takes the last two ideas into account. Your interactions with the community should show that you are there to help. Perhaps there's a discussion where someone is asking for help in learning how to do something on the wiki? An ideal admin candidate should be there to help. You can welcome new users and offer your assistance with anything they need. Above all, be a friend to all other users.
  • Don’t try to be an admin. Plot twist! That sounds confusing in a blog about how to be an ideal admin candidate, doesn’t it? Allow me to explain. I’ve been an admin on wikis, and a number of other websites, throughout my time on the Internet, and there’s one thing that I’ve learned that’s universal to most websites: no one likes someone who tries too hard to become an admin. Those who make it obvious that they’re seeking the job often don’t get the job, because those people tend to try too hard and over-do it. It also signals to others that your only reason for being on the site is to gain a new title. That's the wrong message to send.

When I became an admin on Star Wars Fanon, before I started working for Wikia, I had previously said I didn’t want to be an administrator. I was telling the truth, because I really had no intention of becoming an admin. Nonetheless, I still helped out. I was an active and (mostly) friendly voice. I wrote my own fan fiction and, when I interacted with the community, it was often to help out. Eventually, while I was on a 2 week hike in New Mexico and away from the Internet for the entire time, I was nominated for adminship. By the time I got back, the community was saying that they wanted me to be an admin. Only then did I decide that I would be an admin on Star Wars Fanon.

Now of course, that situation is unique to me, but I say that in order to illustrate that the best kind of admin candidate is not one whose sole purpose is to become an administrator. Rather, it’s someone whose main goal is to help users with their needs and help the community succeed. If adminship comes your way, awesome! Whether it does or not, though, your real sense of fulfillment will come from the fact that you helped others and made many worthwhile contributions to a great project.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, while these are key suggestions, they are only a few. This is not an exhaustive list. A lot of what determines an ideal admin candidate is the subtle nuances of a person’s behavior, like their tone in discussions or approach to disputes and dispute resolution. There is no “one size fits all” approach to that.

Keeping in mind that you are a servant who should be helpful and friendly is important, but you also need to find a tone and approach that works best for you and your personality. I can’t tell you what that is, because only you can find your voice, but, if you keep the aforementioned suggestions in mind, I have no doubt you will find it.

What do you think makes for an ideal admin candidate? Leave your thoughts below!

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